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Exploring the Importance and Social Status of "laoshi" as a Greeting Used by Chinese Students to Address Their Teachers

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Xiaoqiong Hu
Three Gorges University, China

Mingzhu Qin
Three Gorges University, China

Pan Qi
Three Gorges University, China


In China, “teacher”, as an honorific, represents a paragon of knowledge and virtue, a parent, as well as a symbol of great importance and high status, standing alongside Heaven, Earth, Monarch and Parent. For thousands of years’ time, teacher’s great importance has been greatly and constantly emphasized by both Confucianism and Taoism starting from Confucius (the founder of Confucianism) and Lao Tzu (the founder of Taoism). Thus, the present paper intends to justify the acceptability of “teacher” as a more culturally appropriate way of greeting for teachers in the Chinese context than the English way of “title + surname/Sir or Miss/given name”. This paper will be of help and value to those who teach and / or learn Chinese as a foreign language.

“laoshi” as a greeting, “laoshi” as a paragon of knowledge and virtue, “laoshi” as a parent, “laoshi” as a symbol of great importance and high status